Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman • 1995 • United States
The movies are more than a century old, and gay movie characters have been with us since the very beginning—even during the Production Code years, when “sex perversion” was explicitly forbidden. With its comic sissies, lesbian vampires, pathetic queens, and sadistic predators, Hollywood has both reflected and defined how society views homosexuality and what it means to be a man or woman. With clips from over one hundred Hollywood movies and interviews with many of the filmmakers and stars who created them (including Tom Hanks, Shirley MacLaine, Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, and Gore Vidal), THE CELLULOID CLOSET is an epic story—by turns surprising, hilarious, and disturbing—that puts Hollywood images in a whole new light. Based on the book by Vito Russo, this influential documentary explodes sexual myths and examines our attitudes about sexuality and sex roles as they evolved throughout the twentieth century.